Frank Bush has been buffeted by the winds of change this week, his first days with a new title on the Jets' coaching staff: defensive coordinator.
"I'm excited to have an opportunity to do what I'm going to do for this particular game, but it's been a whirlwind," Bush said after Thursday's practice in his first public remarks since head coach Adam Gase offered him the DC job after dismissing Gregg Williams on Monday. "There's a lot of different parts, trying to massage players and coaches and get things moving in the same direction, and that part of it's been a challenge. But it's been fun and exciting at the same time."
It's not a surprise that Gase turned to Bush, who coached with Gase as the Dolphins assistant head coach/linebackers coach in 2017-18 before taking that same role with the Jets the past two seasons. But Bush, 57, has been there, done that in the NFL — as a player, scout, assistant coach, assistant head coach, and yes, D-coordinator.
He talked about that two-year span when he was the Houston Texans' coordinator, and why that's eased his transition into his new role on the Green & White.
"Obviously my first time out there was some apprehension," he said. "It took some time on task and doing the job. This time the apprehension's not there. I've done it before. I've gone through the butterfly stages of calling my initial game, and whether you make a mistake or not, just owning the call and moving on.
"I've learned a lot of football over that time. I've learned some things that I thought I knew, but I didn't know it all. Now going back into it, I can better make decisions and help put guys in position to do things better than I did before."
Bush said he won't be making a lot of changes in the defense with only four games left in the season. But he feels his role is not just playcalling but in taking this group of defensive players that he admires and getting them pointed in the right direction for the last quarter of 2020 and beyond.
"They're busting their tails every day. They come to work every day. They play hard," he said. "We're trying to put them in position to win. So all the things have been set up to try to put these kids in position to be confident going on the road, into a tough environment, and confident knowing they have a chance to come out of this thing with a win."
That first tough environment used to be tougher when Seattle's "12th man" cranked up the decibels in the CenturyLink Field stands. But even with COVID measures dropping the Seahawks' home attendance to zero at Lumen Field (renamed just last month), the Hawks still present a dangerous hurdle for Bush & Co. in QB Russell Wilson and his prolific offense.
"Obviously, the kid's having an MVP season," Bush said of Wilson. "He can do it all. He's extremely smart, he's agile, he throws the ball well, he has a command of everything that's going on with that offense, he's confident, he's a highly competitive kid, and he never says no. All those things bode well for the Seahawks and that's why they find ways to win games. They've won ever since he stepped to the helm there."
Bush also knows another big name in the Pacific Northwest. Long before Pete Carroll became Seattle's head coach, and even well before he took that one-year gig as the Jets HC in 1994, he was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina State from 1980-82. His last two seasons with the Wolfpack just happened to be the first two seasons in the college career of a promising linebacker by the name of ... Frank Bush.
"Pete has a lasting effect on you because he's such an upbeat, positive guy," Bush recalled. "I was very fortunate to have Pete in my life early as a freshman and sophomore. ... Throughout my career I've always looked at Pete and the things he does and tried to emulate some of those things. And now here I am having to go against the guy. It's exciting and at the same time it's a challenge."
The challenge for the Jets defense will be surviving its close encounter with Wilson — passing and rushing — WRs D.J. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, RB Chris Carson and the rest of the Seahawks offense. And for the short term, as the Jets move from Seattle to the L.A. Rams to back home for Cleveland and on to their season finale at New England, Gase turned to Bush for good reason.
"Unbeknownst to me, he chose me for the job, in the sense that he made his decision before he ever talked to me about the position," Bush said. "This thing could've gone a couple of different ways. I'm fortunate that it came my way and I'm excited about the opportunity. He did what he had to do and what he thought was necessary. And now hopefully I can stand up and deliver some of the things he wants to deliver."